Amanda is an Ambassador who studied abroad in Australia
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
I choose to study abroad because I have come to recognize through exposure to different opportunities that there is simply no substitute to living in a foreign country. I strongly believe a significant aspect of self-discovery can be achieved from gaining an appreciation of another culture, which in turn will give you a greater appreciation of your own.
I made the decision to apply to study in Fremantle, Australia because I wanted to gain a further understanding of the ecology of marine organisms; both within the walls of a classroom by enrolling in a marine biology course but also amidst the walls of the world's largest system of reefs. Since becoming more familiar with job positions in the field of Marine Biology I've set a goal for myself to gain as much experience and to take full advantage of any opportunity to better equip myself and enhance my employment prospects
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
After four months of living in Fremantle I can identify one of the experiences that I will cherish most from my time there-our group excursion up the west coast of Western Australia. We found ourselves kayaking in a completely secluded part of Shark Bay, surrounded by unimaginable colors. The reds of the sand burned against the green of the bushes, both contrasting with the aqua blue of the water was surreal. I can honestly say that I have never felt so fortunate as I did at that time to be in Australia. My parents had repeatedly made comments about how lucky I am, but because studying abroad is so common at CSB/SJU I didn't understand until that very moment.
This realization was reiterated for me as we ended the day by gathering as a group around a campfire while learning more about the Aboriginal way of life. I believe what resonated with me most was when our guide described how he believes that when people visit places they are often so caught up in capturing what they see in a picture that they miss out on really taking in where they are. They end up leaving there with an empty stomach because they haven't stepped outside themselves and consumed their surroundings. Hopefully I can take that idea and use it throughout my future travels.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
I came to genuinely appreciate the pace of life in Fremantle. While traveling before our semester as well as through my experiences in Fremantle I was constantly reminded of Australian's leisurely approach to life. I honestly believe that this lifestyle brings out the best in people and perhaps is the reason why I found everyone we met to be incredibly friendly. I immediately felt at home in Fremantle, almost as if I belonged there. Perhaps I felt this way because it is a smaller, homey town but regardless, Fremantle most certainly mirrors the wonderful and irreplaceable community you also find here in St. Joe. With that said, I am so very grateful for the relationships I formed within the P&O; I really only knew two or three people coming into this semester. I now know without a doubt that I left my semester in Australia with some of the closest friends I have met thus far in college.
Based on your experiences abroad, what are some of the benefits of spending a semester abroad? How has studying abroad contributed to your personal, academic, and professional development?
The short time I lived in Fremantle made me realize more not only about myself but also about how being abroad shaped the way I carry myself. Furthermore, I learned a lot about how I interact with others as well as what I value most in a relationship. I can say with confidence that I now recognize that traveling must and will be a large and significant part of my life from this point forward.
The greatest reward of living in a different [faraway] country for me was the realization and confirmation that I can in fact do it, and more importantly that I can also enjoy my time away. I have wanted to study and pursue a career in the field of Marine Biology for as long as I can remember. However, as I've gotten older I have developed an underlying fear that I would not have the courage to actually move away from my family when the opportunity presented itself. Because my immediate family members and those of my extended family all live in Minnesota there is certainly a great comfort found in living in the Twin Cities area.
What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
As often as future study aborad-ers will hear this I would advise them to travel the country(s), to see absolutely everything they can see, but to not spend all their money in one place. To always be prepared, meaning double and triple check your flight/train/bus information. Have an idea of where you are going and what you want to see but to also go with the flow-some of the best memories will be those that are complete spur of the moment. I would advise them to take the time and effort to learn the history of where they are living, to learn the culture and the language well. I would strongly encourage them to make connections with locals who live around them as well as forming relationships with other study abroad students. They won't even begin to imagine how difficult it is to say good-bye and how much they will miss it once this once in a lifetime experience is over.